The “Christmas Sermon”
of St. Isaac the Syrian

This night bestowed peace
on the whole world;
so, let no one threaten;
this is the night of the Most Gentle One;
let no one be cruel;
this is the night of the Most Humble One;
let no one be proud.

Now is the day of joy;
let us not revenge;
now is the day of good will;
let us not be mean-spirited.
In this day of peace
let us not be conquered by anger.

Today the Bountiful impoverished
Himself for our sake;
so, rich one, invite the poor to your table.
Today we received a gift
for which we did not ask;
so let us give alms to those
who implore us and beg.
This present day cast open
the heavenly door to our prayers;
let us open our door to those
who ask our forgiveness.

Now the Divine Being took upon Himself
the seal of humanity,
in order for humanity to be
adorned by the seal of Divinity.


“This is the night of the Most Gentle and Humble One:
Let no one threaten; let no one be cruel;
let no one be proud.”

Thus spoke St. Isaac of Syria in the seventh century.

It is a very long time since then. When once camels, horses, and donkeys carried us along our way, now we line up to board jumbo jets, driverless cars, and satellites in space. When once long ago merchants scratched their accounts on stone or parchment, and saints did the same with their words of wisdom, now our keyboards clatter out the bits and bytes, and send our thoughts and even our finances winging through the ether.

Yes, it is a very long time since the seventh century.  Potentates, tyrants, and presidents have risen and fallen. That has not changed. Nor has the slaughter of innocents, nor the fear of the stranger, nor the martyrdom of the faithful.

In our own era of worldly chaos, let us remember that fourteen hundred years ago the words of Isaac the Syrian (7th C. AD) proclaimed the eternal hope and truth of the birth of the Most Gentle and Humble One, Jesus of Nazareth.

“Invite the poor to your table;
give alms to those who beg;
open the door to those who ask forgiveness.”

And fourteen hundred years before Isaac, the words of Isaiah the Prophet (7th C. BC) proclaimed the birth of The Prince of Peace.

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given:
and the government shall be upon his shoulder:
and his name shall be called
Wonderful, Counselor,
The mighty God,
The everlasting Father,
The Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6

May the words of both Isaac of Syria and Isaiah the Prophet be heard and heeded throughout the earth in our own day. And let us remember that the Lamb of God is the only source of true peace, hope, and justice.


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